To reveal itself.
It’s almost as if it can hear us wondering about its efficacy.
And then BLAM.
Last Friday, I went for a run.
Running is well within the boundaries of “things I do regularly.”
I’ve run an average of 20 miles a week for at least a decade – probably longer, but I refuse to contemplate my impending birthday and growing age.
I got home and, while stretching, noticed some tightness in my back.
Not uncommon, especially on a cold day and after a few tough workouts. I assumed a snack and a hot shower would repair any wounds sustained.
But it kept getting worse.
I was headed to see the Roots later that night (fantastic show), and on the drive down to Denver, my back continued to lock up like two vices at the base of my neck and my tailbone relentlessly pulling the strands and striations of my back tighter and tighter and tighter.
At the show, the only relief I could find was leaning on a railing and sucking in my stomach as hard as possible.
I don’t take my health for granted.
I eat well.
I exercise a ton.
I sleep on a good mattress.
So, I am unaccustomed to my body suddenly deciding to take some time off.
With each painful movement, I could feel the ebbs of my temper start to become more dramatic.
Stairs were torture.
Sitting for more than five minutes felt untenable.
It was as if every fear of growing older and losing my ability to move and live freely came true over several hours.
As much as I kept a positive attitude about the whole thing, I could feel familiar patterns of restlessness and frustration flare up.
I don’t like having to skip exercise.
I don’t like feeling disconnected from my body.
I visited a chiropractor, who said total recovery would be 4-6 weeks. He said it wouldn’t be painful the whole time but cautioned that ensuring complete healing is essential regarding backs.
I can see why.
But then I had a conversation with my singing coach.
I told him about the back pain.
He didn’t ask me about the workouts I had done.
Or my mobility.
He asked, “How much stress are you carrying around right now?”
And the honest answer?
More than I have in a long time.
Much of it was disguised in familiar costumes:
“I have to be responsive to my team.”
“I have to push to get this project underway.”
“I need to get these interviews done.”
But the truth?
It’s all old fear.
Fear that this won’t work out.
And more specifically, I fear this won’t work out because I’ll fall short. I’ll let the team down. I’ll squander the opportunity. I’ll get this wrong.
I’m beginning to think that fear and belly fat have much in common.
No one wants them, and GOD DAMNIT, they are hard to get rid of.
Mercifully, this all feels less existential than it used to.
I feel like I’m watching a movie of my own life.
Seeing myself wrestle with the old ways of being and the opportunity to enter a more beautiful reality.
In the past, I would just experience this as pure stress, unable to discern the root cause. I would flip all the light switches hoping to find the answer.
And now, I know exactly where to look.
And I know that a critical eye on my entire plate is needed – what belongs here, and what doesn’t?
But where will I find the time to do this sifting and sorting?
Probably in all of the places I would be moving around if it weren’t for this silly back pain.
The universe provides.
Never in the ways I want or often expect.
But it always works.